Headlocks, wedgies and chinese burns to all social media agencies / freelancers who manage brands and organisations social spaces and communications.
When our clients and others talk to us about outsourcing their social media activities we used to say : “it’s not wrong, just wrong for us”, now we’re saying something different…
At the centre of any decision to outsource are the two main reasons :
Most organisations and brands devote time to develop their staff and new skills. To broaden the touchpoints they have with those who (potentially) buy from them. To become more efficient. To cut print and operational costs. To deepen the knowledge of their sector. Social media does all this. Add to that, it can save you an enormous amount of operational time (see below under ‘Internal Benefits’).
Anyone can learn how to use social media (an opinion based on five years experience, delivering across four continents, to hundreds if not thousands of people (we’ve lost count), across countless of industries and sectors).
We have yet to find one person who couldn’t click a few buttons, be inspired to use online platforms with the technologies they already own plus see the value and benefit it would bring to their role.
The golden rule of social media use : it’s just like being in a big room, full of real people.
Everyone already has the skill to be human.
There are other reasons why outsourcing is the wrong approach to take :
Social media is a set of tools to make everyones life easier. Operations smoother. Quicker. Cheaper.
It’s as much as an internal function as an external one and understanding how to use these offerings effectively would negate the need to outsource due to the savings in time and money.
Social networking is just a small piece of the social media pie (those agencies / freelancers never tell you that do they).
The consumers / clients / customers
Most people use social spaces to connect with other individuals. Their perceptions of seeing brands and organisation in social spaces creates an expectation that communications would be from people working for said brand. If it’s someone else then that’s a little bit like cheating.
If anything it’s more about adding benefit to your brand name by giving away knowledge and insights. It’s about relevant content creation. It’s about responding personally to tweets. It’s about logging into forums and offering insights. It’s about adding value to current conversations out there. It’s about giving others stuff before expecting their time and money.
This approach is cheaper than any hiring of a PR agency in the long run (who couldn’t do half this stuff anyway) as it’s more authentic, honest and empowers businesses to distribute the message they want, unfiltered.
For me it comes down to this : however much money you throw at people to manage your social spaces for you, I guarantee they won’t have the passion, the understanding of your industry / sector or even the amount of energy to make it a success than you do. Period.
How much does it cost to pay that marketing / pr agency who now happen to do social?
How much time does it take to put together the briefs, manage the relationships, go through the reports, feedback on new messages / tactics etc.?
Going social is an continual investment and not a one-off purchase. The fuel you have to keep putting into the car after you bought it. Outsourcing means paying for a driver as well as the fuel (only a few can afford it, it’s simpler to do yourself and even if you don’t, most people think “why can’t you just drive yourself, lazy show-off?”).
Another thing most social media agencies fail to tell you is social media is really bad for selling stuff. Social spaces are being populated by those pumping their marketing messages through it with no understanding or regard to the essence of the medium.
So many businesses ‘sprinkle’ social media into their marketing, expect immediate results and then dismiss it, thinking that it doesn’t work for their sector. This is absolute nonsense and highlights a failure to understand how the digital world has changed, and how they need to change to keep up.
Social media is not going away and failing to invest properly in it this time will mean a reinvestment further down the line.
A few social media agencies started following me on Twitter recently and I asked them directly for their thoughts on this — none of them got back to me… what does that tell you?!?!?
A message for those thinking about outsourcing :
If you care about your business / organisation and believe in what you are doing, tell your own story, explore how social media can be used internally to save you time & money and please don’t outsource it.
A message for social media agencies :
You’re hurting the industry. You’re polluting and corrupting the spaces. You’re doing it wrong.
The only caveat to the above is for those individuals and agencies helping others start their social media journey, assisting in the start of the process and ‘holding the hands’ of those involved to transition to the client doing it for themselves—this is cool.
Think I’m wrong? OK, leave a comment. I’m open for discussion. Maybe there is room for both offerings in terms of freelancers and agencies managing social spaces and their messages plus other people like us helping people to do it for themselves—if someone can convince me to change my mind then I will happily write a rebuke.
Not doing anyones social media communications and spaces since 2006 — thank you!
DK (personal blog) MediaSnackers Founding Director, Trainer, Speaker
We inspire people to learn, work & live differently with social media.
Reproduced with kind permission from MediaSnackers. All rights reserved.
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